The 2013 Toyota 4Runner gets respectable safety ratings, and it includes a strong set of safety features plus a toolkit of electronic aids that should make some off-road situations a bit safer.
All 4Runners come with eight standard airbags, including front side bags, side-curtain bags for the second and third rows, and front knee bags for the driver and passenger. Safety Connect, a button-activated, concierge-style system that's similar to General Motors' OnStar, is available.
In addition to the requisite electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, they also get Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) for safe uphill starts, plus Downhill Assist Control (on 4WD models), to help maintain a slow, steady speed down steep slopes. For parking assistance (or perhaps spotting when off-roading), some also include a small screen built into the rearview mirror.
A tall, body-on-frame layout like the 4Runner's is more challenging for engineers to design occupant safety into. Yet the 4Runner earns top 'good' ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in frontal, side, and rear impact. The only letdown is its only 'acceptable' rating for roof strength (related to rollover). And in federal NCAP testing, the 4Runner has earned four (out of five) stars overall, including four stars for frontal impact and five stars for side impact.